Mercenary for British in Revolutionary war / TUE 6-19-18 / Candy with comic once / Hit 2016 animated film with tagline welcome to urban jungle / Litmus paper reddener

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (3:43), though it's slightly oversized, so the actual difficulty level may be closer to Medium 

THEME: TRIGGER / WARNING (26D: With 25-Down, caution before a potentially upsetting lecture ... or a hint to 19- and 59-Across and 7-Down?) — firearms are in all the theme answers ... at least I think that's it. I don't really get the WARNING part:

Theme answers:
  • RIDES SHOTGUN (19A: Sits in the front passenger seat)
  • RIFLE THROUGH (59A: Do a hurried search in)
  • BAZOOKA BUBBLEGUM (7D: Candy with a comic, once)
Word of the Day: Henri ROUSSEAU (68A: French painter Henri known for "The Sleeping Gypsy") —
Henri Julien Félix Rousseau (French: [ɑ̃ʁi ʒyljɛ̃ feliks ʁuso]; May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910) was a French post-impressionist painter in the Naïve or Primitive manner. He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll and tax collector. He started painting seriously in his early forties; by age 49, he retired from his job to work on his art full-time.
Ridiculed during his lifetime by critics, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality. Rousseau's work exerted an extensive influence on several generations of avant-garde artists. (wikipedia)
• • •

OK, so that is *not* the Tuesday ROUSSEAU, you guys. Tuesday: Jean-Jacques. Saturday: Henri. It's pretty straightforward.

I liked how weird this puzzle was—the strange shape, the relative openness, some buzzy answers—but conceptually I'm slightly confused. I see that the theme answers all have firearms in them, and firearms have TRIGGERs, but how exactly does WARNING fit in? Is the revealer WARNING me that there are things with TRIGGERs in the theme answers? But the word "hint" in the revealer clue would appear to be doing the alerting, or "warning" ... so WARNING feels extraneous. Just hanging out there, doing nothing. Further: guns, violence, yuck. This is a personal thing, but I don't really want to participate in crossword gunfests. Guns don't "tickle" me, I guess. Too much daily slaughter in this country for me to be able to enjoy cutesy gun-related wordplay. Also, wish the grid had been flipped so TRIGGER came first. It's like a crooked picture frame, the placement of the revealer answers. I just want to fix it. First word should come first, not second. But instead the first word is 26D and the second word is 25D and the whole thing feels alop. BAZOOKA BUBBLEGUM messes everything up by being 16 letters long, which means TRIGGER and WARNING can't sit evenly on opposite sides of the grid, which would be ideal, and which they would be able to do in a grid with the normal 15 rows. And so here we are with wonky TRIGGER and WARNING. Aesthetically, it's irking me. But if I just pretend there's no theme, I actually like this grid pretty well, except for WANGLE, which is about the most off-putting word in the English language (67A: Accomplish schemingly). I really wanted WRANGLE there, as it's a good word, as opposed to WANGLE, which is like WIGGLE and DANGLE got together pretended to be a phallus. I mean, come on. It's got WANG right in the name.

That FIREPLUG clue, what the hell? (64A: Short, stocky person, figuratively). Seems to be used primarily, if not exclusively, of athletes (at least in the dictionary defs that I'm seeing). Kind of important context, in that it seems a bit like an insult otherwise. Not really sure what ALLSPICE is—if I had to name all the spices, I'm not sure I'd name ALLSPICE—and I have no idea what "ZOOTOPIA" is. SAN REMO, also tough, and PITEOUS took a lot of crosses too. I think this puzzle really was somewhat tougher than the usual Tuesday, but again, because of the colorfulness, I didn't mind. Well, ORDERER I mind :( And of course WANGLE. The goodwill that the puzzle lost by playing with guns it won back somewhat with one word: ASYLUM (69A: A political refugee might seek it). I'm tempted to leave you with pictures of children being torn from their parents or audio of distraught children being held in "camps," missing their parents and crying while U.S. border patrol agents make jokes about them, but instead I'll just express my sincere hope that your own family is safe and happy and free.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. after I finished this write-up, I noticed the following tweet ... which shows that I was not the only one to have issues with this gun theme. Not by a longshot.

Click here to read the editor's whole write-up, complete with amazingly gratuitous and insensitive photograph (a very specific kind of RIFLE, being fired in ... Florida). Thanks to my friend Erin for passing along this little tidbit:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:23 AM  

Medium seems right. On one hand a smooth grid with some interesting fill, on the other a strange and perhaps unsettling theme?

We ran across ROUSSEAU recently in the NatGeo Genius series on Picasso. Picasso identified ROUSSEAU early on as a major talent unlike the critics of the day.

cwf 12:29 AM  

I'm rather surprised @rex didn't get the reference to a (somewhat) current hot topic of debate on college campuses (or so I'm told). A TRIGGERWARNING is issued before a lecture that might contain topics that could upset some students.

lars hoel 12:32 AM  

so my wife had to educate me on “trigger warning.” it is, in fact, a thing. her example: if you’re about to discuss a sensitive topic (such as rape) you warn your audience in advance that what you’re going to say may trigger a negative reaction in some listeners. hence trigger warning.

Cory Calhoun 12:38 AM  

Eeeeeeeeeeeesh. This theme. No. I ... no. Why? WHY? No.

Re: ZOOTOPIA ... Rex, bubala. One of the best reviewed, commercially-successful animated films of the last decade? Best Animated Feature 2017? No? Decent tackling of racial divides and manipulative governments that fuel them for a family flick.

And then there's the DMV-full-of-sloths scene:

Anoa Bob 12:52 AM  

Not familiar with the phrase TRIGGER WARNING. Or is it WARNING TRIGGER?

I am, however, familiar with BAZOOKA BUBBLEGUM, having chewed it a time or two. I don't consider it a "candy" though, as clued, but as a....well, as a BUBBLE GUM. There's a difference, right?

Reminded that both HESSIAN and ROUSSEAU have double esses, and on a Tuesday, no less. EPONYM and PITEOUS (same number of letters as PITiful) tickled the word-nerd cortical areas. WANGLE not so much.

Harryp 1:23 AM  

The only area that cost me time was the IPAD WBA cross. I had IPoD, and the World Boxing Organization looked OK on a quick scan. Otherwise a normal Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

What in the world is "off-putting" about WANGLE? It's a word I've heard and used all my life. "Let's see if we can wangle an upgrade," e.g. It simply means to obtain something a little outside the norm through a little creative persuasion. Nothing offensive about it.

JOHN X 1:31 AM  

Talk about your TRIGGER WARNINGS! My goodness gracious!

I solved this puzzle pretty quickly and not once did I even notice a firearms theme! RIDESSHOTGUN and RIFLESTHROUGH just have such secondary meanings to me that I never noticed the gun parts. Same with that big themer at 7D: I saw a brand of bubble gum and thought of that one-eyed kid with his turtleneck up to his nose (????) and those dumb yet endearing comics. I never once thought of an actual anti-tank weapon.

Hey Johnny UNITAS is here! That man had a haircut you could set your watch to! And SPIRO Agnew, the guy on the wristwatch! How about HUD? That's just about the only truly unlikeable character Paul Newman ever played, and it's something on a fighter plane that you use to aim the . . . ooh, never mind that one.

My favorite was Leon ASKIN, who played General Burkhalter on "Hogan's Heroes." KLEENK YOU EEDIOT! Comedy gold in a Nazi prison camp!

Aketi 1:47 AM  

@Rex, thx for the alternate take on TRIGGER. He was a beautiful horse.

Discovered how good ALLSPICE can be with a recipe for turkey meatballs stewed in dried apricots and prunes. I’m definitely not a chef but the recipe was in a list of recipes for meals you could make in one pot.

@Quasi from yesterday, no I have not landed there. My husband now complains that it’s hard to get me to travel internationally, not because I dont like foreign destinations, but because I’ve hit my quota for airline flights and inevitable mishaps.

Larry Gilstrap 2:01 AM  

Interesting comments by Shortz about the editing process in general, and specifically this puzzle. My dad was a country boy, so a rifle was one of the tools of the trade. Nothing more, nothing less.

I had a print of the ROUSSEAU painting in question framed and hanging in my room for many years. Enigmatic and colorful. I think I later saw the actual painting at MOMA. I got excited.

I met a fellow traveler at a B&B in England years ago who lived on a plantation in the Caribbean where the trees were ALL SPICE. She was very insistent that everyone knew that it was a distinctive variety of spice, not a blend as the name might imply.

sanfranman59 2:23 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:43 4:30 0.83 6.2% Easy
Tue 4:37 5:26 0.85 18.0% Easy

A little stickier than yesterday, but not much. I didn't notice that it was over-sized until I read Rex's review. ZOOTOPIA was my only WTF moment and it was well covered by easy crosses ... including BAZOOKA BUBBLEGUM off of just B__O... woo hoo!

WHAM and WANGLE were a little slow to come. I went with ANYway before ANYHOW (22A) and misspelled AUSTEN with an I (48A) and PITEOUS with a second I (28D). Those were my only erasures. ANYway accounted for my longest stare time since the wrong letters obscured the downs in the east.

Anyone besides me know Henri ROUSSEAU from Neil Diamond's "Done Too Soon" (showing my age now)? Puzzles get bonus points with me when I learn something. Today's lesson: ALLSPICE is in jerk sauce.

I kinda assumed that OFL would go into a tizzy over the firearms theme.

Graham 2:39 AM  

Well, ZOOTOPIA was the 7th grossing movie in 2016 — just two years ago —, was in the top 10 attended movies for three months that year. “I don’t do pop culture” blah blah — that doesn’t mean this isn’t a perfectly legit crossword answer.

chefwen 3:08 AM  

Rex, I’m with you on WANGLE, I so wanted to find a way to squish an R in there.

Pretty easy minus a few select areas. ROSTRA gave me pause, had ANYway before ANYHOW and tHud before WHAM. We have a dear friend we call our little FIREPLUG, she’s short, as am I, but she is a little go getter.

Had no problem with the theme, but I knew Rex would. I can separate puzzles from real life.

Jared 3:10 AM  

I'm seriously floored that the Times blogger actually skipped writing about a puzzle because its themer is gun-related. Why not take that opportunity to at least say that it's unsettling to you like Rex did? You really have to push your individual views into the mix and disrespect the hard work of a constructor like that?

You'd think the theme answers were all serial killers or something with that level of sensitivity. Ridiculous.

Outside The Box 5:29 AM  

Gimme a break, The “gun theme” upset people? Just like the student in 2016 who saw the word “Trump” chalked on sidewalk and got so upset that she had to run to get to her “safe space.”

This is a crossword puzzle people, not an ad for the NRA. Grow up and stop your politically correct whining about everything.

What is wrong

RJ 5:36 AM  

I'm one of those people who often misses the theme when solving - I either don't see it in the title, don't get it, or don't care. I guess this means that when a theme is revealed, my thought is often "hmm. okay." and not much more. Today's GUN, TRIGGER, RIFLE, and FIRE felt that way.

This was tougher than the usual Tuesday for me because I had to get some of the long answers from crosses, like SANREMO, ROUSSEAU, and PITEOUS.

I consider YESYES to be almost crosswordese, although many of my younger friends are saying "ya ya", like "get on with the story" . I assume this is a part of our current 10 second attention span rather than fervent agreement.

ALLSPICE is one of those jars that lives in my spice rack for years before I finally throw it out because I so rarely use it. I think I have a recipe for an Indian masala that uses allspice but that's about it. I used it for something I made last year but I can't remember what it was. Must have been delicious!

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

You might not have notice the theme, but believe me, plenty of folks these days (especially young ones) do get triggered by this. Given the current climate, it seems insensitive to plague a relaxing past time with such images.

Anonymous 6:01 AM  

“so a rifle was one of the tools of the trade. Nothing more, nothing less. ”
Until you’re 15 years old and you have to fear going to school, endure nerve wracking drills or happen to see your friends being shot in front of you.

Triggered by guns 6:07 AM  

After Parkland, my 15 year old daughter would have nightmares about going to school.
The debate over firearms and its topic IS a much sensitive one these days.
Timing is everything.

Anonymous 6:09 AM  

Zootopia is a great movie.

Guns kill people.

Too soon.

Lewis 6:14 AM  

@rex -- Hah! The one word I marked as one I especially liked was WANGLE!

I came into this puzzle with excitement and high expectation because Peter's last few in the Times have been sterling, and technically, this puzzle was a polished beauty. It also provided a terrific piece of learning, because I had never heard of a TRIGGER WARNING, and when I saw how well it Googled I realized it is something I should know, so I'm grateful for that.

But having a theme based on guns during this particular kids-scared-to-go-to-school time in a country where the over-sanctity of gun rights is the obvious cause of so much pain and sorrow -- well, that fell a bit flat. I don't believe we should bury our heads in the sand, nor do I believe we should we playfully bandy about gun references as if they were harmless trifles, like a juggler's bean bags. Shall we base a crossword puzzle on the etymologically-fun different types of cancer? It just gave me an ew-type feeling.

Thus, TRIGGER WARNING as a thing, turned out to be a true warning for me, giving this puzzle a meta feel. That was kinda cool. So I came eagerly into this puzzle, and leave it with some yukness blended with praise for positive elements, making it for me a mixed and memorable bag.

Rob H 6:38 AM  

I guess the puzzle theme TRIGGERED too many solvers and bloggers. What a world we live in.

Aketi 6:53 AM  

@Lewis, good analogy. The puzzle did NOT make me want to curl up into a ball and suck on a ring pop. Words in a puzzle never do. On the other hand I won’t forget this puzzle for totally different reasons than the PI Puzzle on PI day that gave me such delight. Its sort of like the veideo game industry with their unrelenting fixation on single shooter games. I can enjoy some of them when they involve shooting necromorphs on a deserted spacecraft but I really prefer video games like Portal where you have to shoot holes through walls and then figure out your tragectory to fling, bounce, or slide your way through cubes while ignoring the bad advice of an evil computer. Or Alan Wake where you fight the darkness with an arsenal of flashlights while retrieving clues to try to figure out the mystery of what happened to your wife. That latter are far more creative and fun.

Normal Norm 6:54 AM  

A puzzle custom made for @Rex about @Rex. His reaction was so on-cue and predictable. Meta and hilarious. Asylum even got a mention as I knew it would. Being vulnerable to such blatant propaganda should be a trigger warning itself.

Mark N 6:58 AM  

Agree with others - interesting grid, overall fun fill, nothing wrong with the themers as a puzzle, but... there are just so many other themes that can be done, y'know?

FLAC 7:04 AM  

Talk about “meta” — I guess this puzzle needed a trigger warning.

michiganman 7:15 AM  

My take is that the puzzle shows how gun related words (with non-gun meanings) are a big part of the language . Even Rex said "Not by a longSHOT". Other violent words exist, too. STAB is a frequent entry in puzzles "take a guess (at)". OFL seems to not know what trigger warning means. It's to protect the overly sensitive like the Times blogger. Somebody should have given a trigger warning to Deb Amlen before she saw the puzzle. Yes, rational and civilized people hate guns. The gun slaughter in the USA is intolerable. Gun terms in xword puzzles are harmless. That is unless you are primed to be offended.
This was a good puzzle.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

A perfectly reasonable puzzle, with a coherent theme and nice fill, and a revealer that I’m fairly sure I have never heard in my life, which made it fall a bit flat for me.

Well, that and ORDERER. Are the waitstaff orderees?

Small Town Blogger 7:17 AM  

Wow, very surprised to see this rated medium-challenging. I don’t time my solves but this felt like my fastest Tuesday time ever, on par with an easy Monday. I flew through it with no erasures (I solve on paper). Maybe it helps that I loved Zootopia and cook occasionally with allspice! I also just got my first ever tattoo - an orange MS awareness ribbon, and I just discovered that the orange ribbon also stands for raising awareness around gun violence, so pretty proud of that!

J. Sessions 7:22 AM  

"Her children back" doesn't fit into 69 across.

Eliza 7:31 AM  

Wrote in riding shotgun then Bazooka Bubble gum (the best of the BAs on the shelf in the 50s)
Then I saw the revealer. The rest of the solve had tonedeaftonedeaftonedeaf looping in my brain.

Robert A. Simon 7:51 AM  

This terrible, too-easy, not-at-all clever excuse for a puzzle belonged in the latest issue of "Guns & Ammo," not where the general public could see it. Impossible to believe there wasn't another puzzle Shortz could have chosen. Yes, weaponry is all over American english metaphor, but so what? So is sex, but there is general agreement to show restraint where that is concerned.

What it comes down to--what a lot of the discussion here comes down to--is a matter of taste. And the problem with Shortz is simply that his taste isn't as good as it should be. Running this puzzle is inexcusable. He and the Times should be ashamed.

Oh, and by the way, if you want to take a giant step towards solving the gun problem, contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to get behind the repeal of the Second Amendment.

Z 7:53 AM  

The ability not to be TRIGGERED by a gun theme is a privilege. Excuse those amongst us thinking anyone amazed that anyone else might not want a gun theme is a privileged ass. Because you are a privileged ass. The one saving grace you insensitive numnuts give the world is that that guns of yours most likely victim, statistically, is you.

7:42 - I think that’s medium Tuesday time but I don’t really know. The 6:00 wall fell for Monday for me about a year ago, and I haven’t timed many Tuesday’s since. I liked the puzzle well enough, but knew the theme would bring out the jerks. No problem with FIREPLUG. In many sports there is an advantage in being tall. To excel when one is below average height takes both skill and determination, so this term is always used with admiration. The prototypical FIREPLUG is José Altuve, probably my 2nd favorite baseball player.

I learned one thing from Rex’s write-up, the clue wasn’t, “French painter Henri known asThe Sleeping Gypsy,” and that there were two ROUSSEAUs. Well, not really. I think Henri the painter is more Tuesday while Jean-Jacques the philosopher is more a late-week clue. JJ will always live on in my heart for suggesting that Machiavelli’s The Prince is best read as satire. Go ahead, re-read it but this time imagine it in Jon Stewart’s or John Oliver’s voice. Uh huh. And if you know even a little bit of Niccolò’s biography it makes a lot more sense that he wrote this with tongue firmly in cheek.

Suzie Q 8:04 AM  

I would have no idea about Zootopia except the mother of small children next door played me the DMV scene with the sloths. Someone earlier gave a link and if you don't know that scene it is worth a look. Good adult, but not dirty, humor in a kids movie.
Seems like I don't know what makes a Tuesday anymore but whatever day of the week I thought this was fun. Eponym and rostra seemed pretty high-end for a Tuesday.
At first I thought the mercenary clue was asking for a specific person so I was relieved to see Hessian. That I knew. Lafitte came to my mind first but wrong war and too long so I waited.
Fire plug is such a vivid description. A pug dog came to mind. Probably because of the pugilist clue.
Hey, didn't we have Waikiki just yesterday?

@Anoa Bob, From late yesterday, thanks for the sauna info. Hidden benefits that sound very healthy.

GHarris 8:07 AM  

Only brief hang up was in mid-West because I first entered pitiful and was not familiar with trigger warning. Finally getting geo and rostra broke it open for me. Bazooka gum was good but didn’t measure up to Fleer’s Double Bubble.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

I am not a privileged ass. I am not a numbnut. I hate guns. I support the repeal of amendment 2. But I do know the difference between gun words and real guns. I fear guns. I don't fear words.

Tom4 8:14 AM  

I’m mystified folks don’t know who Jean-Jacques Rousseau is and I’m accused of being a snob. He is one of the most influential thinkers in the West whose ideas were key to the founders and the AMERICAN revolution. I don’t like the fact that guns are used to terrorize kids in schools and I’m told I’m a lefty. I respect that victims of trauma suffer PTSD and I’m told I’m politically correct (which, by the way, includes the word * correct *).

“The fruits belong to all and the land belongs to no one.”

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”

“Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.”

chefbea 8:19 AM  

Hand up for bubblegum not being candy!!! And with all the violence going on ...shouldn't have a gun related puzzle

Hungry Mother 8:19 AM  

Very easy and quick here. I switched to downs fairly early. Got the theme, but it was no halp. Talking about TRIGGERs, OFL has a few.

Stanley Hudson 8:22 AM  

A tone-deaf puzzle, as @Eliza and others point out.

Richard Gross 8:34 AM  

What is DDR? I thought that East Germany was known as GDR......

QuasiMojo 8:34 AM  

A Trigger Warning for me when I was a kid was whenever Roy Rogers came on. I ran to my safe space.

@Aketi, I feel exactly the same way these days.

Agree with Z. I would imagine Rousseau the painter is more familiar to the younger generations than the philosopher. His work is often featured in current art books and often imitated. He was mentioned on Jeopardy recently too. If I am not mistaken Rousseau was a self-taught artist. Quite ahead of his time.

As for the puzzle it was hard for a Tuesday and well done but overall a bit dry. I find these themed puzzles boring. I much prefer themeless.

Nancy 8:40 AM  

Well, it's not nearly as bad as I thought. I was sure that just about everyone on the blog today would be offended in some way -- the anti-gun people (and I'm one, surely) by the gun answers and the other half of the blog by the revealer. But all things considered, the reaction so far as been fairly mild. I do wonder, though, why a constructor would expend so much time and effort on such a theme. Aren't you just asking for trouble?

Come to think of it, FIREPLUG (64A) is clued in a very snarky and insulting way. My clue would have been: "A dog's favorite target?" (Come to think of it, that goes especially well with today's theme, doesn't it?)

Another easy one. I found myself writing in many answers without needing to read the clues. Maybe there will be some challenge tomorrow?

All War No Peace 8:42 AM  

Here's a thing about the gun theme. We're in a time and place in history when and where a population is so stressed, its individuals break out in public mass murder weekly. Then there's suicide. From the Washington Post "Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death." It's on a rise.

Guns are the most visible symbol of this dystopian place. There's another one, but why get political. As anti-politically correct as I am, even I can see that there are people who are overwhelmed by guns and violence and might not want to be reminded of it with their morning coffee in places where they don't have to be. Like a crossword puzzle.

A gun theme was a stupid, thoughtless thing to do.

And btw, I'm sick of the term tone deaf. Try insensitive.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Two -- count 'em, TWO -- days in a row faster than Rex. I should probably retire from puzzles! Today will be a good day, world!

I got off to a great start but felt this one slipping away a couple of times. On the third 'clean-up' pass I managed to fill every single square. Some 25 seconds off of Tuesday record territory, but satisfying. Nothing sticks out as being overly tough. All told, a fair, fair puzzle.

kitshef 8:46 AM  

@Richard Gross - DDR is Deutsche Demokratische Republik - the German equivalent of GDR in English.

Irene 8:47 AM  

Anyone who cooks--and anyone who loves Jamaican food--knows allspice.
Fireplug is both fond and mildly insulting as a description.
Wangle a perfectly acceptable word.

I think Rex was so upset by the gun theme that he was offended by the whole puzzle.

I do think orderer was a strain, however.

Triumph 8:48 AM  

Fireplug, as clued, is accurate. I don’t think of it as an insult but if it is, so what ? Are insults not allowed in the puzzle now ?

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

or BS

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Guess Rex needed a trigger warning before doing this puzzle. I cannot imagine how someone gets along in the real world if he or she is put off by the words in a NYT crossword puzzle. I am the most anti-gun person you'll ever met but I don't need meds after writing the word "trigger" in little boxes, one letter at a time. Maybe some folks should do their puzzle in their safe space, just to be on the safe side.

Ein Freund 8:57 AM  

Deutsche Demokratische Republik

Hydrant 9:06 AM  

I am a short stocky male, 5' 2", 160#. FIREPLUG is not at all offensive to me. But maybe to appease the whiners the term BEANPOLE should appear in a puzzle for balance.

BTW, I was in a terrific mood this morning and then I saw all those awful, awful words, made of letters, in the puzzle and I had to take extra XANAX.

pmdm 9:11 AM  

Michiganman: If you are a parent whose young child was murdered in school during a mass shooting, it isn't unreasonable if you wind up with a trauma that manifests itself via a supersensitivity to anything that reminds you of the incident, in which case coming across a gun term might not be harmless.

Robert Simon: No need to repeal something that can be fixed by a simple amendment. The way in which the second amendment is worded results in arguments about what exactly it is saying (a fact denied by enemies of gun control, or at least many of them).

Most of those who comment here seem very intelligent. Many of these same people seem to believe their positions are infallible. Many of these same people seem incapable of understanding how anyone can disagree with them. OK, perhaps I am overly harsh, but that is what I take away from some of the comments. Some of the comments today seem to be along these lines. Enough on this topic.

I am lucky enough to not become stressed by anything that has happened in the past. Appalled? Yes. Enraged? Yes. But not over the top. So I am perfectly happy when firearms, dictators, natural disasters, and whatever else appears in the puzzle. If that weren't true, I wouldn't be able do solve the puzzles. I am also happy to learn terms like "trigger warning." While I've seen them many times, I never really knew what they were called. Certainly, it is better to include these types of things in a puzzle over esoteric proper nouns and terrible slang. You may feel different, which is OK.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

Don't know how to break this to y'all, but ROUSSEAU the political philosopher is my Tuesday ROUSSEAU and ROUSSEAU the painter is my Saturday ROUSSEAU. So there.

I majored in Political Science, while taking no art history. I have seen some of ROUSSEAU the painter's paintings. I find them disturbing. They give me the willies.

Thanks, @Tom4 (8:14) for the lovely ROUSSEAU quotes. (He was such a cockeyed optimist about human nature.) But when I studied Political Philosophy, I was a pure Hobbesian. ROUSSEAU's "Noble Savage" never seemed all that "noble" to me; he seemed much more "savage". No, I agreed with Hobbes about life "in the state of nature" (i.e. without government) -- that it is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." We Hobbesians make good liberals, btw: we need government to protect s from "the war of all against all."

I took this class more than half a century ago. And as I've often said: I Remember Nothing. But this class, taught by the wonderful Professor Peter Rowe, left an indelible impression on me and has influenced my thinking ever since. And btw, we were not being pointed in any particular direction; there were plenty of Rousseau supporters in the class too. Our Final Exam Essay Question: "All political thinkers have had to balance the desire for individual freedom with the desire for political order. Take any two philosophers we have studied [the other three were Plato and Aristotle and Locke] and explain how they have solved this dilemma." I chose ROUSSEAU and Hobbes -- and I aced the exam.

CplRock 9:21 AM  

Just knew that Rex was going to not like the first theme answer I got to “Rideshotgun” and at that point I didn’t know that the theme was firearms. Rex at the paperback cover site is amused by violence/guns/sexy girls but its a different deal here. It’s his site so I’m glad he does it his way, but combined with his distaste for poor fill, themes that aren’t perfect (Perhaps the two revealers today shouldn’t have been linked but TRIGGER could have been clued as “Famous Palimino” with no link to the answer Warning.), and political correctness it makes it tough for the constructors to be able to produce a good puzzle.

I am amused that even in my mature years, if anyone dibbs “shotgun” everybody willl respect the claim and get in the back seat. Nice to see the phrase.

Bob Mills 9:28 AM  

Rex, "FIREPLUG" is used to describe athletes, specifically, for an obvious reason. An athlete's performance can relate to his or her physique. But no schoolteacher, or accountant, or lawyer would be better or worse at a job because of physical characteristics. That's a baseless criticism on your part.

I found the puzzle easy, but enjoyable.

Matthew G. 9:30 AM  

The problem with this puzzle is not that it is about guns. The problem is that the revealer phrase, TRIGGER WARNING, has a particularly strong connection with the classroom environment—not the only context in which the phrase is used, but the most salient one—and thus makes jocular wordplay out of guns in schools. As a parent of school-age children, I find that to be in exceedingly poor taste.

I saw some Twitter chatter about the theme being inappropriate before I solved the puzzle, but not any details. When I started solving and just saw that it was gun phrases, my first thought was, “Come on, this is not taboo.” But then I got to the revealer and cringed. That was a pretty bad call.

Happy Pencil 9:37 AM  

The issue isn't that phrases like RIDES SHOTGUN exist in the language. It's that someone would think to himself, "Hmm, what should I build a theme around? How about a puzzle on guns, mere months after 17 children were shot to death at school?" Of all the many, many things that are irritating about people who comment here, it is the constant disingenuous misrepresentation of the concerns raised by Rex and others. You can disagree, but don't disagree while pretending not to understand what the issue is.

I knew I should never have come here today. Thanks so much for the stark reminder of why I stopped reading this blog.

Tom4 9:44 AM  

@Nancy I’m with you on Hobbes, even if he’s a bit misunderstood. Rousseau interests me most as an influence for Marx. Rousseau laid too much foundation for the noble savage on the meh notion of “pity”.

Thanks for your comment :)

Unknown 9:46 AM  

Hi all,

Just stopping in to comment about the photo. The original photo that ran on Wordplay was my choice, not Will's. It was a misguided attempt to say that if 'words are just words,' aren't pictures just pictures?

Few people got that, so I changed the photo. My apologies for the insensitivity.

Dan K 9:51 AM  

The issue here, as far as I'm concerned, is not that the theme entries contain guns. That's life. Guns exist now in the world and have existed throughout history. This is a pretty tone deaf time to publish a crossword oriented around them, but I could chalk that up to the author and editor not making that connection.

The issue is that TRIGGER WARNING, a term that while not understood by everyone is very important to some people coping with traumatic experiences, is used playfully to allude to something that might have been involved in some of those traumatic experiences. That's not clever wordplay. That's taking people you disagree with and actively mocking them through the crossword.

To paraphrase an NRA slogan: "Gun crosswords don't hurt people. Gun crosswords that also make fun of people's potential sensitivity to guns do." I wasn't personally offended by this puzzle, but thinking about people who justifiably would be made it impossible to enjoy.

RooMonster 9:51 AM  

Hey All !
I'm surprised at so many who never heard TRIGGER WARNING before. Especially all y'all who watch news and are fairly political. I don't watch the news, too depressing, but TRIGGER WARNING seems to be in the ether. Now WANGLE, on the other hand, wha? Wrangle, sure. Even fanangle, but WANGLE is far more esoteric than TRIGGER WARNING. One man's opinion. :-)

Agree that this puz is not the best theme idea ever. However, just listing various types of weapons in not-violent ways isn't paramount to advocating violence. Maybe the revealer clue should've said, "... or appropriate title for this puzzle". YES YES.

As for the puz itself, seeing the whole BAZOOKABUBBLEGUM was odd. Usually just BAZOOKA GUM. or known by the strangely drawn cartoon BAZOOKA JOE. Agree with Rex that the revealer words should've been switched, but then if you did that, they would be backward. As in, the way they are In the grid, they read left to right, the proper way words are read. I don't know, maybe redo entire grid so the TRIGGER is above the WARNING? Then you'd have to move the Across themers, which would deny you the Down themer, because the letters wouldn't line up. So, nevermind. :-)

ANYHOW, fill good, lots of open spaces. Bunch of U's for our resident U lover. Only two F's though. And what is BAS-relief? Wanted gAS. Har.


Unknown 9:57 AM  

Does anyone know of another nytimes crossword blog with less personal animus/pc and more structural analysis?

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Well, at least the NYTimes replaced the picture of a kid shooting an AR-15 with a Canadian lecturing an audience of geriatrics on the music of Liszt. Because, you know, you don't want the image of a kid firing an AR-15 associated with your crossword puzzle the only alternative is a musicology lecture.

G. Weissman 10:11 AM  

It was a hot topic for about 15 minutes a year ago.

G. Weissman 10:18 AM  

You don’t seem very Happy, Pencil.

Blue Stater 10:26 AM  

The quote from Deb Amien epitomizes all that has gone wrong with the NYT puzzles in the WS era. It is not the job of a column like Wordplay, surely, to be "respectful" or "kind" to the puzzles. It is to be critical of them: to praise them when they're good, and point out their [abundant] errors of fact and language when they occur.

Unlike OFL, I got through today's fairly smoothly. Slightly OT: today's Mini had as an entry, ZHUZH, supposedly meaning (with "up") to make more attractive. Never.In.My.Life have I heard such a word. Neither has Merriam-Webster. Surely presence in the standard American English dictionary is a minimum standard for these puzzles? But no. The Minis seem to be going the way of the regular puzzles, and That Ain't Good. Can't zhuzh *that* up.

Hartley70 10:27 AM  

I found the puzzle easy but went "ugh" by the end when I hit TRIGGER WARNING. What's next, themes containing various opioids and "justsayno" as the revealer?

three of clubs 10:30 AM  

i long for a crossword that gently lulls me to sleep. The rest of the newspaper is alarming enough. In fact, the entire Times should come in a recycled biodecomposable paper bag with a trigger warning printed on it using appropriate euphemisms.

jberg 10:37 AM  

@Dan K and @Matthew G nail it- the pun on TRIGGER WARNING is just too macabre.

Once again, folks are criticizing @Rex without actually reading what he said—which was not that he doesn’t know what a “trigger warning” is, but rather that the word “warning” is superfluous for the theme.

And all you folks who are so offended that people are easily offended...physician, heal thyself.

@unknown— Some of the links on Rex’s home page are to other blogs.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:43 AM  

The theme is, or could be, OK. The revealer messes everything up. The phrase "trigger warning" when directly associated with weapons implies that someone is gonna use a gun to shoot someone. That's the image that comes to mind.

I'm OK with gun references being in crosswords. I'm not OK with making light of their use. I'm definitely not OK with the following excuse that Will Shortz used today: "For better or worse, guns are part of American life." Yes, and so are gruesome deaths, offensive jokes, political tensions, overt sexual references. So now it's a free-for-all and we don't use any judgment? Good to know. I'll immediately construct a puzzle that includes everything I listed above.

JC66 10:44 AM  


I'm anti-gun, but I have to point out that fires kill 3 times as many children in the U.S. annually than guns.

Nobody's complained about FIREPLUG in that context.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Kids are getting shot in schools. Yes, some of us are sensitive to that.

puzzlehoarder 10:45 AM  

I was falling asleep doing this puzzle last night and went right to bed. That's why I'm commenting rather late.

BAZOOKA is a bit of an outlier for this theme but once schools have really become hardened you're going to need that BAZOOKA to blow down the security door and kill the armed guards behind it just so you can get in there.

This might sound crazy to you but how much crazier is it than what we live with now?

Whatsername 10:45 AM  

Same here Richard. It’s news to me.

jb129 10:46 AM  

This weeks puzzles so far have been EASY - a little too much so.

Lauren Gray 10:50 AM  

The ignorance of commenters in this blog space is at the same time stunning and not surprising.

Doug 10:56 AM  

What's with all the hoopla about WANGLE, Rex? You wangle an invitation to a party. Commonly used then and now. A production assistant who has to hunt down guests for a show is typically called a celebrity "wrangler," as in gathering a herd of cattle or horses. I'd be surprised if you've never heard that usage. I knew ROUSSEAU because my wife is a retired art curator and historian. But he is pretty obscure as far as crossword puzzle entries go.

GILL I. 11:00 AM  

I'm enjoying the comments today. I always like hearing opposing viewpoints especially if they are civilized and don't insult someones particular sensitivities. No need for name calling.
I'm like @chefwen - I can separate puzzles from real life. I've not been seriously traumatized in my lifetime (unless being violently up-rooted from my Cuban home by assassin Castro and his torturing side-kick thug Che, counts). I got over it... Ergo, I enjoyed this Tuesday. I didn't think of violence and I wrote a word that I absolutely loved: PITEOUS. "Pity Poor Me". Isn't that just a great phrase? Did SPIRO use it?
@Rex, you should probably see ZOOTOPIA. It will make you smile. If you like animals and like the fact that every single specie on this earth is living under one roof and trying to get along, then this one will bring enjoyment. Be forewarned, though....There is a female rabbit cop who tries to enforce the law and she does carry a gun.
I love ALLSPICE. If you're ever inclined to make chicken liver mousse, you HAVE to add that mysterious flavor.
@Quasi: Henri ROUSSEAU is probably the most well known self taught artist but there are several more that I love. Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses and you could probably include Dali because he got kicked out of art school. Grandma Moses' sweet and gentle strokes could never be taught by someone else.
Peace...folks. If we can - just for a puzzle sake.

Banana Diaquiri 11:00 AM  

@Outside the Box:
This is a crossword puzzle people, not an ad for the NRA.

sure it is. now we have Dear Leader egging on the EuroNazis, and ours. if one doesn't see the evil building, one is either blind or complicit.

mmorgan 11:01 AM  

Did not appreciate the gun theme, but I decided to treat the puzzle as a themeless and liked it just fine -- even the revealer. I'm saddened but not surprised by those who don't understand why some may be disturbed by the gun theme.

benjaminthomas 11:14 AM  

Good grief but there are some delicate flowers here.

@All War No Peace 8:42 AM - Insensitive? Pot, meet kettle. How can you go around posting under a pseudonym that advocates (or could be considered to do so by some) war?

See? Where does this end?

Malsdemare 11:15 AM  

I know I should be quiet here but I figure ya'll can just skip this if you want.

Back when I was teaching college students, it seemed only fair to give a class a headsup if the upcoming topic could be painful. I taught Social Psych and Intercultural Communication and some topics — female circumcision, spousal rape, child molestation — could hit close to home for foreign students or those from traumatic domestic situations. The "warning" was for two purposes: to remind everyone that we don't know the circumstances others moght be in and to be careful what they said; and to let people know ahead of time that something challenging to handle was on the horizon. No one was let off the hook; they just had enough time to prepare for a difficult discussion.

Gun violence hasn't affected my life personally but I can imagine that for those who have been impacted being confronted with guns first thing in the morning when you just want to do a crossword puzzle could be awful. Maybe Amlen's TRIGGER WARNING shoukd have been the title (yeah, I know NYT does titles only on Sunday). Yup, they're just words, just as the photo Amlen posted is "just a photo."

I don't have an answer; just empathy for both sides.

Not my favorite puzzle though I may need to reread Machiavelli. @aketi, I wish those games were available for the iPad; I think I'd love them. OTOH, I really don't need another time sink.

Masked and Anonymous 11:21 AM  

FIRE & PLUG. Kinda theme-related, if U parse stuff NRA-style. Didn't feel at all comfortable with this theme -- not a very enjoyable ahar moment. TRIGGER WARNINGS … school lectures … plus guns. Nope. Not much fun as a package, for m&e.

Henri ROUSSEAU did neat colorful paintins with sculpture-like figures set in jungles or somesuch. Liked his works a lot, when I was in college Modern Art History class. Never heard tell of that J.J. ROUSSEAU dude, tho.

staff weeject pick: TUM. Honrable mention to SEA & SEE.


For some reason, am familiar with WRANGLE for the 67-A clue, but not WANGLE. Learned somethin new, there.

Masked & Anonymo12Us


Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Stop calling people you disagree with names. Not only is it rude,it's getting tedious. Further, that many people, most people in fact, have enough perspective to reconize that a word, even word that describes a lethal thing is not itself a lethal thing. That appreciation is not privelege, it's reason.

Whatsername 11:32 AM  

This was, by all accounts, an adequate Tuesday puzzle. I completed it in a normal Tuesday time but with dwindling enthusiasm as I began to see the theme develop. Like other commenters, it isn’t that I was offended by it so much as it just gave me a vague feeling of discomfort. Kind of like a book I recently read that was about neighbors interacting with one another. The narrative focused on children and raising families, etc.; but for some reason it contained a lot of profanity, including the F word interspersed frequently. It wasn’t that I am so delicate that I’m offended by that kind of language, but the fact that it was just totally unnecessary and inappropriate. It added nothing whatsoever and became a distraction from my enjoyment of the experience of reading purely for pleasure. I feel the same way about this puzzle. The choices for a theme are endless so why one that conjures such unpleasant thoughts and images? For instance, this is National Pollinators Week. Sounds like an excellent basis for a theme to me - apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves - which I would so much rather be thinking about than scenes of rifles with scopes pointed at people in crowds. Again, not that I don’t realize that firearms are just as much a part of the world we live in as trees and flowers. But having the subject brought to mind while I sip my morning coffee really kind of spoiled the experience of solving for pleasure which I looked forward to this morning. Totally unnecessary and inappropriate.

Also, I had many many many pieces of Bazooka bubblegum when I was a kid. Not once did I ever ask my mother if I could have a piece of “candy” to chew and blow bubbles.

mathgent 11:34 AM  

I like Peter Gordon crosswords. Professional and smart, like this one.

Jeff Chen criticizes Gordon for making puzzles which are too hard for early-week solvers. I thought that the editors controlled what day of the week a puzzle appears.

tea73 11:40 AM  

I laughed when I saw the puzzle came with a TRIGGER WARNING and since I got the answer to TRIGGER first, I did not actually really notice it came second.

WANGLE only bothers me because I think it and WRANGLE get used the same way. Probably because no one actually hears the difference. Dictionary is pretty clear that they are not the same word at all.

I liked all the non-gun meanings and thought there were some nice fresh answers.

I hate ROUSSEAU's paintings, but no problem coming up with his name. All I remember about the Jean Jacques dude was a history teacher tell us that his autobiography (Les Confessions) is full of inaccuracies despite the fact that he says he will tell nothing but the truth. I guess he invented truthiness.

Banana Diaquiri 11:41 AM  

Further, that many people, most people in fact, have enough perspective to reconize that a word, even word that describes a lethal thing is not itself a lethal thing.

the enthronement of Dear Leader, who lies multiple times a day and did during the election, proves that words can sway low information, low income, low education citizens. if gun things become as neutered as bubblegum, you see the problem? don't you?

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Mike Sharp attributed the selection of the picture to Will Shortz, so it must be true.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

@Unknown, try Crossword Fiend.

tea73 11:51 AM  

Just wanted to add ALLSPICE is great in pumpkin pie and is often used in Greek cooking including that wonderful hybrid concoction Cincinnati Chili.

I found the puzzle easy (2.5 Rexes) and would have probably been even faster if I hadn't confused my IPADS with my IPods.

old timer 11:57 AM  

Good comment @malsdemare.

I now think of Deb Amlen as a snowflake. But I must demur to the suggestion that her job is to criticize the puzzles (that job has been taken on by Parker and Chen. Her job is to praise them, and point out the things that make them good -- even when in many respects a particular one is inferior. It's honest work, and there is nothing wrong with the paper paying someone to promote the puzzles and explain them.

I found the puzzle as easy as most Mondays, and my times yesterday and today were identical. It did help that I am old enough to remember BAZOOKA BUBBLE GUM, which used to cost a penny a chew. We did not give our children gum, period. We almost never gave them candy except at Halloween. Sugar was only allowed in my wife's home made cookies and desserts. And their dental needs were way less than mine had been, as a result.

Kimberly 12:07 PM  

I do not understand the theme hint at all, or what it has to do with a lecture, and why a word frequently associated with education had to be used to clue guns. Words are not just words, they are the most powerful force in the universe. They inspire and define thoughts. Declaring words harmless makes people begin to perceive the thing as harmless. The more a thing appears in popular culture, the more benign it begins to seem.

Cathy 12:08 PM  

Hmmm. Guess no one serves in the military here.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

I do not. The puzzle wasnt proposong arming people. Or shooting them.
Your risable hyperbole regarding the last presidential election is only helping to relect Mr. Trump. Thats not my theory, tahts what Rob Reiner, and Frank Bruni are saying. Sniffing at folks who dont agree w you politcally, insulting them, debasing them as if you were the philosopher king is part of the reaso Mr. Trump was elected i tne first place. Smug condescension may make you feel supefior, but it is a poor political strategy. Its uncivil as well.

Linda Vale 12:37 PM  

Another error in today’s puzzle. 5d “Fastener on a Manila envelope”. First, I have sold office supplies for over 30 years. Manila is the same material as a standard file folder. An envelope made from Manila is extremely rare (nobody bought them) and they certainly did NOT have a fastener or CLASP attached.
The clue should have been changed to “kraft” envelope.

All Peace 12:49 PM  

@benjaminthomas, I do get your point but it's misguided as you relate it to my comment. I don't mistake the theme of this puzzle as being gun advocacy and I'm not sensitive to the subject. But there are people who are overwhelmed by it. So why go there?

Unknown 1:04 PM  

Zootopia is really really good and you should watch it ASAP

Banana Diaquiri 1:09 PM  


the fact remains Dear Leader was elected by a mere 78,900 low information voters in 3 states. that's a fact. pandering to them by Democrats, or anyone else, isn't likely to work. holding the Make America White Again crowd to account is the only viable option.

"Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism."
Barry Goldwater/1964

the start of MAWA. Dear Leader praises despots (which he seeks to become in full) and demeans democrats (yes, lower case).

newspaperguy 1:15 PM  

I don't like guns either, but they are still words. Silly complaints are getting tiresome.

Raulito 1:16 PM  

I agree the gun theme is an ew trigger.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I'm surprised, in the comments I was able to read, that so many were unfamiliar with the phrase TRIGGER WARNING. Back before moderation on this blog, it seemed as if at least once a week there was a commenter asking liberals if they needed one before crawling back into their safe space to suck their thumbs; thus, once I got TRIGGER, I jumped over to 25D and splatzed in WARNING. And because I filled them in that order, it didn’t bother me that the clue numbers were out of order for the phrase.

STUN crossing GUN and GUN crossing SLOGANS which I pronounce as if it ended in GuNS, along with GUM crossing TUM. Fun!

My big holdup was seeing PITEO___ start to form and me wondering why PITEable wasn’t going to fit.

I made lutefisk for the first (and only) time for my friend, Urban, who was visiting from Sweden. It was Christmas and he was missing his traditional dish from home. It is served with potatismos (mashed potatoes) seasoned with ALLSPICE and served with melted butter. During the meal, Urban would raise up his arms and declare triumphantly, “The taste of Sweden”. So it was a successful meal, whew.

Thank you Peter Gordon for the TRIGGER WARNING about the TRIGGERs and a well-made Tuesday puzzle.

wondering 1:48 PM  

@JC66 - Wondering if you have a source for your cited data? This ( shows one fire death among children 0-14 for each two firearm deaths. In the next age bracket 15-24, older children and young adults, one fire death for every 86 gunfire deaths.

Banana Diaquiri 1:49 PM  

it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

that snippet bears repeating: recall the video of Dear Leader's first recorded Cabinet meeting. straight out of Russia, China, and North Korea. if you're an Old Rich White Guy, may be that's what you want?

words matter. they will sway the low information crowd.

Banana Diaquiri 1:51 PM  


78,900. that's all. that's a fact. that's rather a minority, don't you think?

JC66 2:01 PM  


Apologies. I looked at this and this , but did the math wrong.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Youre comparing apples and oranges, banana.
Yes, the vissictides of e,ectoral politics meant that had 80000 folks not vited trump in nalf a dozen co gressjonal districts he wouldnt be prez. That however doesntaccpunt for the 60 million people who voted for him. Thats roughly 49 peecent of tne votes cast.its no majority, and i evwr claimed he had one but its disi ge ukus to keep banfi g tne 80k number about.
Its an obfuscation.not an argument.

Foamfollower 2:25 PM  

Are you 15? Your need to cloak yourself, your hyper-sensitivity, and your apparent inability to hold contradictory ideas in your head at the same time suggests so.
Finished in 5:26 and was not once “triggered” by images of guns or weapons, much less gun violence.
You know, to paraphrase a comment attributed to Freud, sometimes a crossword is just a crossword.

ebtobiassen 2:46 PM  

"Jberg" would have it that it is misreading Prof. Smith to think that he doesn't know what a trigger warning is
Here's the quote: "but how exactly does WARNING fit in? Is the revealer WARNING me that there are things with TRIGGERs in the theme answers? But the word "hint" in the revealer clue would appear to be doing the alerting, or "warning" ... so WARNING feels extraneous." I agree that it is baffling that a professor at SUNY Binghamton has to scratch his head about "how exactly "trigger" relates to 'warning" in a crossword about as triggering a subject as guns, but, whether his puzzlement was genuine or feigned, it sure is in the text. Go figure.

Matthew 2:56 PM  

Yes @malsdemare 11:15, like in Charlottesville,"there are good people on both sides."

Howard B 4:01 PM  

I'm not offended by the puzzle itself, and it's a solid puzzle.
The main question is, "Was it enjoyable to the solver?"
And for me here, the answer is simply NO; the theme is unfortunately timed and for me, it fails that test. Solving just resulted in an uncomfortable feeling throughout. That's a shame.

It's just my human reaction to all-too-tragic times.
We're all entitled to our own experience with a puzzle.

Hungry Mother 4:35 PM  

While on an RV caravan in Mexico during the summer of 2004, I met the man who was the center for UNITAS at St. Justin High School in Pittsburgh and at Louisville University. He told me that he kept in close touch with Johnny through all the years. Meeting Miles Kozubik was the highlight of a very interesting trip.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

It is precisely your lack of sensitivity that keeps this country hostage to the inluen$e of an organization like the NRA, who cares only for profits and nothing for human lives.
I’m not 15 but I’m a parent who prays everyday for their kids to come back home alive. The gun situation in this country is completely out of control and everyone in Washington (and people like you) are ready to do nothing and pretend this is normal.

John Child 5:06 PM  

If LMS opts out of the comments we’re in a deep hole. Tone deaf from concept to creation, editing to publication.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

I can understand why the theme might be upsetting to some people but didn't really cause me disquiet. I wish Banana Daiquiri could go somewhere else with her silly political commentary because this is not the right blog for it. I expected Rex to be much more upset than he is actually was. I was also surprised he didn't really get the meaning of "trigger warning" which is common in schools like those he teaches in.

Acai Diaquiri 5:59 PM  

I think that banana guy is a Moby. No one could be that dense

Joe 6:20 PM  

I thought that Will Shortz and Deb Amlen both acquitted themselves quite well on the Wordplay site. I wasn’t pleased with the theme myself, but I solved quite quickly and easily. Ironies abound.

ZenMonkey 8:09 PM  

Hey, you. The commenter whining about people who need trigger warnings and what jokes they are. You've done it before on this blog too. This isn't the first time, or I wouldn't be bothering with this.

Your daughter was raped. Violently. And it was by someone she knew and cared for. Your daughter will not be able to have children of her own because of the damage. And your daughter was brave enough to take the guy to trial, where every aspect of her good life was twisted to paint her as a slut who deserved it. The rapist was found not guilty. You and your daughter still live in the same city as him.

Your daughter goes to a lecture for women considering business school. The Q&A goes off course and someone begins recounting their story of being raped. Your daughter is in therapy but she is still badly traumatized by the entire ordeal. The person's story doesn't just make her remember her own experience -- your daughter relives her own rape. That's what trauma is. You can't remember without going through it all again. She leaves the place and when she gets home she is crying and extremely upset.

And you say to her "What a country. Politically correct run amok. You're such a delicate flower."

Right? That's what you say to her? I can only assume given your stated position on the matter.

And if your answer is "no, because I know what she went through and how bad it was," do you think she's the only person on the planet to have gone through it? So maybe you could consider showing the same empathy for people you've never met, whose stories you do not know, and whom you have no right to judge. Of course, you're welcome to, and prove yourself as empathetic as the current administration towards the children currently being traumatized. They're just snowflakes, right?

"Trigger warnings" may have been diluted through overuse by now. But this is the kind of situation that led people to start using them. If it makes you feel cool and important to laugh at and dismiss people like your daughter, it might be worth examining why.

(Note: This is not about anyone in particular. Not Deb Amlen -- don't know her from Eve -- and not me.)

Z 9:45 PM  

Stayed away most of the day, but the Twitter meta-commentary dragged me back. @anon8:09 - If you refuse to accept that words can hurt because these words don’t hurt you than you are a repugnant excuse for a human being. @anon11:30 - I’m confused. If “privileged ass” is just words why should you care if I call you one? Oh, right, since you are a privileged ass you think your feelings matter more than anyone else’s. What a repugnant privileged ass.

@JC66 - There is a difference between death by accidents and deaths within our control. Accidents are the leading cause of death in children after their first year, and we as a country take aggressive action to mitigate against them. Our failure as a country to respond to Sandy Hook, Parkland, Columbine, etc, etc, etc, is a betrayal to the survivors of those tragedies. I think I get what you are saying, but our collective guilt is not the same.

@ebtobiassen - Seriously? What you quoted pretty substantiates @jberg’s point. Specifically, WARNING as an answer seems to be alerting the solver that things with TRIGGERs are in the puzzle, but “hint” in the clue already does this, making WARNING “extraneous.” There is no legitimate reason to conclude from what you quoted, or anything else in today’s post, that Rex doesn’t know the term TRIGGER WARNING in the PTSD sense.

@John Child - It could be a matter of “if I can’t say anything nice I will say nothing at all.” Or it could be that these tête-à-têtes get tiresome. Or it could just be a busy day. I stayed away today because of reason #2, but there was so much tsk-tsking on Twitter I was curious. The comments weren’t actually as bad as I feared.

@BD - Hey, no need to fill my shoes. One strident, opinionated, liberal jousting with trumpkins is probably enough. Keep it up and I risk becoming extraneous.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

I didnt say my feelings mattered more I said words are not the same as the things as they represent. And so they aren't. I aslo said youre rude. And so you are.
I assure you, none of the things ive ever seen you associate with privelege apply to me.

TomAz 10:07 PM  

I don't like guns. I don't own one, am a strong supporter of gun control, and the pro-gun lobby is some form of dystopian rabbit hole.

But, I liked this puzzle a lot. Mainly because it fell super-easy for me, a full minute faster than Monday, and Monday wasn't particularly challenging. Just a wavelength thing. I dropped in BAZOOKA BUBBLE GUM with no crosses. I kept ripping through it waiting for resistance but found very little.

Monty Boy 10:18 PM  

Very late so I suppose most will miss this. For the Syndies then. No one has commented on George Ferris and his famous wheel. It's an interesting story in itself, but very interesting in the book "The Devil in the White City" which is about the Chicago Worlds fair 1893. The devil is a serial killer who haunts the fair, but the sub texts are about the fair itself. Ferris and his wheel are there, the first successful commercial operation. He's from Pittsburgh so steel plays a big part. The book talks about Ferris, but also other features important to the future. Good read.

Banana Diaquiri 10:26 PM  

hot off the presses.

jails for babies are now termed "tender age centers". Trump NewSpeak in action.

Loren Muse Smith 4:39 AM  

FWIW, I see both sides. Words can be powerful and evocative. Painful. I’ve dealt with pretty devastating alcoholism with various friends and family members over the years, and I never get all mad and stuff over the bajillion cutesy ways to clue “sot.” I realize this topic pales in comparison to today’s. I do get scared sometimes at school, where you can imagine the kids have access to multiple weapons. We’ve had lock-downs, and I’ve experienced that toe-to-head rush thingy ‘cause I thought some student I’d had a dust-up with was coming for me. But I didn’t get upset yesterday at all by this theme. Everyone’s line is different in a Mapplethorpean kind of way, I guess. I’ve had three students who’ve ended their own lives. Would I want a KICK THE BUCKET or BITE THE BULLET kind of theme? I dunno. It’d probably make me sad, but I’d recognize that the phrases are in the language and just move on.

Anonymous 6:24 AM  

BITE THE BULLET means gritting your teeth, as for an amputation with no anesthetic. But point taken.

Austenlover 12:43 PM  

@Monty Boy, I like your comment about the Ferris Wheel and the Devil in the White City. That was a really good book. Erik Larson is an excellent writer. Anyone who can make me interested in the invention of the Ferris Wheel and how to build on the sandy soil in Chicago has to be good. Dead Wake, about the last voyage of the Lusitania, was good also.

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

Kind of funny seeing how upset people are by the gun theme in a puzzle with the phrase trigger warning.

Foamfollower 6:46 PM  

Precisely? Your misuse of that word settles it. If you are not 15 chronologically, then you have a teenage level of emotional intelligence. Histrionic begins to cover it.

You think my well-considered and restrained response was “insensitive”? In that case I should have gone with my first reaction:

“Violence is as American as cherry pie” —

H. Rap Brown

Burma Shave 9:14 AM  


in your LOCALE it’s ASYLUM she’s desirin’,
RAISIN’ your WANGLE each morning,


thefogman 9:54 AM  

I found this one to be really easy. Only one write-over. I had ANYway before ANYHOW. I also hate guns but at least the puzzle had a TRIGGER WARNING in it. But seriously, I'm not sure if the puzzle promotes or normalizes gun culture in any way. There are lots of unsettling words that can appear in a puzzle. Guns are just one of them. Should all references to guns (and unsettling words) be banned from the NYT? With time, certain words can and do become taboo. The last time Hitler made an appearance in a NYT crossword was 1984. Can the same thing happen to guns? Maybe Peter Gordon's intent was to spark a debate about unpleasant and/or forbidden words. If so, he certainly succeeded in that regard.

rondo 10:09 AM  

Maybe a bit weak on the theme, but ANYHOW I had no misfires.

• TRIGGER WARNING! I knew the mention of any GUN would raise ALOT of hackles. I’ve done the MN history homework and none other than the liberal of liberals from the 1960s, Hubert H. Humphrey, was in favor of private gun ownership and the Second Amendment. Go figure. I’ve been accused of leaning to the left, yet I own two handGUNs and YESYES, they are always loaded, and safely stored. Words are words, especially when crossed. Get over it.

• BTW Henri is the only ROUSSEAU I know. Got a print hanging in my library. Football.

• Different TONI. Braxton. Yeah baby.

The theme coulda been a bit more loaded up, either way it would not UNITAS. (Please note my bullet points, if the format passes through.)

spacecraft 11:20 AM  

I'm with @michiganman. How I wish that guns were only words appearing in a crossword! I for one am grateful that I encountered them on the printed page instead of the real thing. Some of you people sound like you expect those words to jump off the page and shoot at you. "Primed to be offended," indeed.

I don't recognize the phrase "TRIGGER WARNING" per se. I can only imagine "WARNING: this weapon has a hair TRIGGER." I filled the WARNING part in on crosses.

Hand up for PITIfUl. I waited for the ANYHOW/way problem to resolve itself, so no w/o there. Agreed that GUM is not "candy," but laid down that gridspanner off only the -OOK-. Those were the days, my friend. A more innocent time, when BAZOOKA didn't offend anybody.

MYRA Breckenridge was a memorable film for the following exchange between an aging Mare West and a very young Tom Selleck:

M.W. How tall are you?
T.S. Six feet, six inches.
M.W. Let's forget about the six feet--and talk about the six inches.

The title role is played by DOD Raquel Welch. Also, um, memorable.

I liked this one; it has some crunch. Minuses include ORDERER-ER-ER, YESYES-YES-YES and a glut of PPPs--but they're at least interesting names. Also cool is the use of Y in MYRA, HYDRATE and ASYLUM. The vowel half of its personality shines. Wheel of Fortune, take note. Birdie.

Diana,LIW 12:11 PM  

Interesting that OFL, as usual, can only infer difficulty from his time, rather than how difficult it was for him to suss the answers.

I simply don't time, and truly don't care. I just like puzzles. I don't get competition.

My only problems with this puz were errors of my own making - PITIFUL before PITIOUS - that kind of thingie.

But all in all 'twas a fair Tuesday. My fav over-the-top gun commentary was the old SNL skit where everyone carries around their own nuclear warhead. Perhaps a DysTrumpian, er, DysTopian picture of the future. OTOH, Cain killed Abel. It's a long, sad story. Could it be, hmmm, that competition thing gone rampant? Don't shoot the messenger.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 1:52 PM  

Clue: "caution before a potentially upsetting lecture". Answer: TRIGGER WARNING". Huh?

They don't hold up as a convincing pair without some stretching and imagination,. especially the "potentially upsetting lecture" part. Is ROSTRA supposed to be a part of this?

Loosely done, unexciting theme at best.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

Trigger warnings are warnings that a work contains writing, images, or concepts which could act as a trauma trigger. The term and concept originated on the Internet and then spread to other areas, such as print media and university courses. The mental health effects of trigger warnings have not been well studied.

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

“I must never be reminded of a negative experience”

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

The Lunatic Fringe was well represented today....

rainforest 4:54 PM  

As is my wont, this being Tuesday, I finished the puzzle this morning, then went to my weekly "old farts" breakfast and glee club. My first reaction to the puzzle was positive as I liked the theme and revealer, noting that all contained a gun term, but in a non-gun context.

When I got back home, thought I'd read the blog and see how it went down. Bemused would fairly describe my reaction to all the comments, with everyone insisting that they KNOW the proper way to react while deriding those with whom they disagree. Maybe being a Canadian disqualifies me from having an opinion, but, for the record, I hate guns, I hate how America has been manipulated by the NRA and the completely misinterpreted 2nd Amendment. In my mind, the US is awash in firearms. Scares me. But on the other hand, it has always been thus. Of course there are those who recoil at the mention of guns, in some context, and I recognize that, but I think in this puzzle, where only the words appear, but not the relevance to weapons, maybe take the long view.

Good puzzle with the possible exception of ORDERER. Oh yeah, WANGLE is a perfectly good word. I regularly WANGLE an extra slice of bacon from one of my buddies at breakfast.

thefogman 8:14 PM  

Gun violence in the United States results in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries annually. In 2013, there were 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries (23.2 injuries per 100,000 persons), and 33,636 deaths due to "injury by firearms" (10.6 deaths per 100,000 persons). - Source: Wikipedia

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